Dick Devos knew well the damages the Detroit business district suffered when the major sports teams moved into a suburban arena. When Grand Rapids considered the same scenario, the oldest son of Amway co-founder Richard Devos rose in opposition. Thus, the committee known as Grand Action was formed. The results spoke for themselves. The city proper soon became home to such marvels as the Van Andel Arena, the Grand Rapids City Market, and the Michigan State University Medical School.
Having the combined wealth of two families, Dick and Betsy Devos work toward the betterment of society. The couple has donated just short of $139 million to a wide variety of causes. Especially noteworthy is a $12.5 million gift toward the construction of the Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids. They have also had marked success effecting changes in state laws regulating labor and education.
An avid pilot himself, Devos has added significantly to the field of aviation. In 2010, he created the West Michigan Aviation Academy, a charter high school located at the Gerald R. Ford International Airport. He greatly enhanced services at that same airport by convincing Air Tran Airways, later bought by Southwest, to offer nonstop flights. In September of 2017, he was chosen to sit on the FAA Board, the civilian committee advising the Federal Aviation Administration.
With education reform being one of their main concerns, Dick and Betsy Devos were instrumental in founding the Great Lakes Education Project. The organization champions the goals of academic achievement and increased accountability in schools. A primary focus of the group is giving parents a greater voice in determining the educational futures of their children. The appointment of Betsy Devos to Secretary of Education was largely due to her advocacy of school choice.
Despite a failed attempt in 2006 to become Governor of Michigan, Dick Devos continues to be a force for change. In 2012, he helped to engineer the Right to Work Law that prohibited union security agreements with companies. He continues his campaign to bring positive change, especially in the areas of education and labor.
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